A Stoke Newington parenting website is on a mission to make sure ‘Santa visits every child in Hackney’ this Christmas.
Parents are asked to bring some “festive magic” to deprived children, from new-borns to 11-year-olds, by purchasing a special gift or food item and leaving it at one of several drop-off points.
The appeal follows The Campaign to End Child Poverty’s annual report, which listed Hackney’s child poverty level as one of the highest in the UK, second only to Tower Hamlets.
Jenna Fansa, founder of Stokey Parents, said: “It’s hard to imagine a more polarised borough than Hackney. 42 per cent of Hackney’s children live in poverty, hundreds are at risk of homelessness and many families are dependent on the local food banks to survive. Meanwhile many families are living in relative affluence and it’s right that we do something to help.”
“We’re also aware that Hackney is incredibly diverse – it’s home to more than 207,000 people from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, more than 100 languages are spoken in the borough. That’s why it’s a ‘winter’ appeal rather than just a ‘Christmas’ one.”
Some 191 local families have been declared homeless in Hackney this year and more than 2,000 children are being forced to live in temporary accommodation, according to StokeyParents.
Donations will go to The Ivy Street Family Centre, which runs Grow Baby. Their service collects baby clothes and supplies, offering them to families in need.
Hackney Food Bank, which has centres in Hoxton, Hackney Central, Upper Clapton and Stoke Newington, will also benefit from the appeal.
Fansa added: “Stoke Newington, Dalston and Clapton have an amazing sense of community spirit and I hope we can tap into that and help make winter special for children who are living in very difficult circumstances.”
“We think every child deserves a lovely new toy during the festive season but we’re grateful for any donations. ‘Pre-loved toys’ will go to good homes too but not as Christmas presents or they’ll be sold to fund Growbaby’s wonderful work.”
Angela Large, manager at The Ivy Street Family Centre, said: “Every week we are seeing families who are referred by their midwives, social workers, health visitors and food banks or referred to Growbaby for help with their little ones. Some have no access to public funds, they live in cramped rooms in temporary places and they don’t have much at all – certainly nothing nice.”
“This winter appeal will remind families in need that they’re cared about and that there’s a supportive community willing to help. It will definitely put some smiles on children’s faces.”
The StokeyParents site was launched in November 2013 to bring information and entertainment to local parents.